Members of a marching band created by a retired pastor and his wife, recently play during a march in the streets of Yare,  in Venezuela. The marching band plays throughout cities and communities and invite children and adolescents to learn how to play drums and learn about values. [Photo: East Venezuela Union]

July 6, 2023 | Valles del Tuy, Miranda, Venezuela | Steven’s Rosado, and Inter-American Division News Staff

A marching band created by an experienced Seventh-day Adventist pastor and his wife in Venezuela celebrated 12 years of praising God and engaging young and old alike in a local church and community. Sinai March Band was launched in 2011 in Valles del Tuy, Miranda State, south of Caracas—the capital city of Venezuela, by now retired pastor Pedro Gil and his wife Rut, its musical director.

“When my husband and I were close to retirement, we visited Valles del Tuy and saw a need to provide guidance to the local youth,” Rut said. “This is how the idea of creating a musical band was born, to help young people stay away from drugs and crime.”

Band leaders teach during a practice session in Valles del Tuy, Miranda, Venezuela. [Photo: East Venezuela Union]

Little by little, the Gils began to purchase musical instruments — including side drums, lyre xylophones, and cymbals — often by paying for them in installments. Eventually, they got hold of about 50 instruments and repair kits. In 2023, the Gils were glad to report that for the first time, they were gifted a couple of instruments. Now they are planning to purchase some cuatros, a Venezuelan instrument similar to the ukelele but with a distinctive character and sound. With that, the Gils are planning to dabble in other music styles to enlarge their repertoire.

Steady growth

Rut Gil shared how from those humble beginnings with a small group of young and adult Adventist church members, the band has grown to include 26 young participants from the community. Current young members were first contacted thanks to the “Given Them Food” initiative by Pastor Edgar Mongua and his team of volunteers, she said.

“The march band has been a beautiful musical experience for me, but my greatest achievement has been working with children from the community,” Rut said. “When I see their happy faces, when I provide them with a hot meal, I feel grateful to God.”

Children line up before they practice playing the drums. [Photo: East Venezuela Union]

Likewise, Rut explained, “every time we place a musical instrument in their hands, we are teaching them about a future of service while enjoying God’s blessings.”

The current composition of the band includes a general director, a musical director, a treasurer, and a chaplain, Rut Gil reported.

An outreach and mission tool

Through the years, the Sinai march band has participated in various programs and events in several communities in the Valles del Tuy region, including Charallave, Santa Teresa, Ocumare, San Antonio, La Esperanza, and Yare. Its young members have performed at public evangelism events, special celebrations such as Mother’s and Father’s Day, and World No Tobacco Day, to name a few.

Children take part in stretching exercises before they engage in a drum practice session. [Photo: East Venezuela Union]

Rut Gil added that besides attending church and community events across the area, the musical band has performed at San Andrés University in Mérida, at an evangelistic series in Barquisimeto, and in the country’s capital city of Caracas. Thanks to the mission-driven approach of the initiative, six young members were baptized in 2022.

“Our current project includes offering Bible studies to the 26 kids from the community,” Rut said. “Not only to give them music lessons, but Bible classes and also to feed them every Saturday.”

Improving young people’s lives

Rency, an 11-year-old boy with autism who is a member of the march band, said he’s happy to belong to the music ensemble. “I am so happy. I have learned to play the lyre xylophone and the side drum at different beats,” he shared.

Children show off their ice pop after a practice session. The initiative is part of a community impact ministry led by Pastor  Edgar Mongua called “Give them to Eat” where people in needy communities receive food and evangelistic literature in eastern Venezuela every month. [Photo: East Venezuela Union]

But the most important thing, according to Rency, is “spending time with friends, performing across communities, and helping to distribute meals to those in need.”

The Valles del Tuy sub-region is part of what is known as the larger Great Caracas region. According to a November 2022 study, at least 50 percent of Venezuela’s 28 million residents live in poverty. Since 2014, more than seven million residents have fled to neighboring countries and beyond. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, about 150,000 Venezuelans have returned home, often after losing their jobs in their host countries.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, and other countries has been working to cater for the basic needs of residents, migrants, and refugees alike.

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